Their worst stretch of play in months could not come at a much worse time for the Chicago Cubs.
The veteran team will need to regroup on Monday’s off day following a dreadful 1-5 trip against the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Their five consecutive losses culminated with Sunday’s 6-2 defeat, getting swept for the first time in almost three months, sending the Cubs back to Chicago for their final homestand as they desperately try to hold onto their playoff position.
The Cubs (78-72) enter Monday tied with the Miami Marlins for the final National League wild-card spot, though if the season ended today, Chicago would be left out because they do not hold the tiebreaker.
“They were better than we were in all aspects of the game,” manager David Ross said of the Diamondbacks. “They played better defense, they pitched better, they had timely hitting, they ran the bases better. We got beat all the way around. A bad road trip. Try to wash it on the off day tomorrow.”
The Cubs wasted their best opportunity to erase Arizona’s lead and produce a big inning. They drove in just one run on Cody Bellinger’s double-play grounder. After Sunday’s failure to capitalize, the Cubs are 0-for-8 with one RBI in bases-loaded situations since sweeping the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 6.
“It definitely hasn’t been ideal, it’s been frustrating,” Bellinger said. “I think overall the past week there’s been a lot of unfortunate bounces and overall as a whole pretty disappointing, but looking in the future, we’re still in a good spot. A good amount of games left to play and just trust the group in here and myself to continue to roll and hopefully get on a hot little stretch.”
Their issues with scoring runs Sunday played into a larger problem the last 10 days with the offensive struggles becoming particularly pronounced in high-leverage moments. During the three-game series at Chase Field, spanning 31 innings, the Cubs left 27 runners on base. They failed to put a runner in scoring position in Friday’s 6-4 loss.
All the little things have added up.
“We get to those moments and we have to lock in, grind a little bit harder in those moments and not get too anxious,” Ross said. “We had a lot of traffic. The at-bats are not bad. We just get in those moments and take the pressure off the pitcher pretty quickly. We’ve got to keep the pressure on and have quality at-bats.”